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Saffron and aromatherapy: inhaling saffron is good for you Saffron for PMS, testosterone, cortisol, Prozac, oestrogen, anxiety, burnout, antidepressant

For many years I am using several Amanprana products. My all-time favorites are Kotobuki Matcha, Gula Java Cacao, Gula Java Safran, Coconut Oil, Botanico Mix and Razoli.

Marco Zielinski, Geschäftsführer, Rhino's energy GmbH, Germany

1 November 2011. Dr Jacob Schor, writes articles about oncology in Naturophatic Doctors News and Review, is editor of Natural Medicine Journal and Naturopathy digest. www.denvernaturopathic.com

Testimonial:
“A pinch of saffron alters hormone levels in women”

Heather A. Hausenblas, geriatrician, author and researcher. She published five scientific books and 80 scientific articles and has made 200 international presentations.

Saffraan werkt om angst en depressies te verminderen

Saffron has an effect on reducing anxiety and depression

Inhaling saffron influences hormones: testosterone, cortisol, oestrogen, Prozac.

A particularly noteworthy document was published in the June 2011 edition of Phytomedicine. H. Fukui and colleagues explain to us that inhaling saffron, is enough of a stimulant that it brings about hormonal changes in young women. (Fukui H., Toyoshima K., Komaki R. Psychological and neuro-endocrinological effects of the scent of saffron (Crocus sativus). Phytomedicine. 2011 15 June, 18 (8-9):726-30.) This was a double-blind, placebo-controlled study with only a short period of exposure (just 20 minutes) to saffron. Forty-seven female students took part in the study. Of those 36 were randomly assigned to a saffron group and 11 assigned to a control group.  The experimental solutions with saffron were diluted to such an extent that the aroma of saffron could not be detected. Saliva samples were collected and tested for cortisol, testosterone and oestrogen levels. After providing the sample the 47 woman took part in a psychological test (the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory: STAI) in order to measure their anxiety levels. Who would have thought that inhaling saffron for twenty minutes would make much of a difference? The researchers could really demonstrate that inhaling the unrecognisable solution of diluted saffron had a significant effect on these young women. Their cortisol level went down and their oestrogen level went up.  Anxiety levels fell in the group which had inhaled the saffron (1).
Approximately three years ago another study group reported that the oral ingestion of 30 mg/day of saffron had a positive effect on PMS symptoms. You have to wait 3-4 menstrual cycles before you see any results.
In at least four randomised double-blind placebo-controlled clinical studies saffron was found to be effective in the treatment of depression. In two of these studies, people took 30mg/day saffron over six weeks. One study made a comparison between saffron and a placebo, while the other study compared the effect of saffron with the antidepressant Prozac. Saffron worked a lot better than the placebo and had a similar effect to Prozac (3)(4). The two studies used the whole pistils of the saffron flowers. Two more recent studies used the petals. The results were similar to the results with the real saffron (pistils). Petals from the saffron crocus work a lot better than placebos in combating depression (5); they work just as well as Prozac (6), but don’t have any negative side effects.

However strange it might sound, this study is not the only example of aromas with a medical impact.

We can find other examples of the benefits of aromas under 'aromatherapy’. Lavender as aromatherapy reduces, for example, anxiety in both adults and paediatric surgery patients (7)(8). Other comparatively recent studies suggest that saffron could help with a whole range of medical complaints, notably cancer (9).
In the past twelve months a whole host of interesting studies have been published on saffron and cancer. A study from October 2011 states that the saffron extract crocetin increases the effect of the chemo-medicine Vincristine in cases of cervical, lung, ovarian and breast cancer (10). Another study describes the use of saffron to destroy cervical and breast cancer cells (11). A study published in May 2011 concludes that "saffron has a significant chemopreventive effect on liver cancer by checking cell proliferation and induction of apoptosis” (12). A publication from April 2011 announces that crocetin "influences the growth of cancer cells by checking the synthesis of nucleic acid, the improvement of the anti-oxidative system, to induce apoptosis and to hinder growth factor" (13). Studies from 2011 and 2010 indicate a possible benefit in the treatment of lung cancer (14). A study published in October 2010 comes to a similar conclusion, ".... saffron extract has pro-apoptotic effects on lung cancer cells and can be seen as a potential chemotherapeutic for lung cancer" (15). A study from January 2011 reports “that crocetin checks the spread of breast cancer cells through downward regulation of matrix metalloproteinases" (16). Three other studies have suggested the utility of saffron in the treatment of pancreatic cancer and leukaemia (17)(18)(19).
Even if the prognosis of the treatment of cancer by means of 'saffron-aromatherapy' is comparable; the effect saffron had in these cancer studies probably wasn’t a result of its aroma. The component which is likely to be responsible for the cortisol-lowering effect described by Fukui et al. is a volatile agent, such as safranal. Mainly the solid crocetin was examined for its power to destroy cancer. This is the part of the plant that also functions as a colorant. Even if it might be tempting to tell cancer patients ‘to go and inhale saffron’, it would be more advisable ‘to ingest saffron’, as we want to combat cancer effectively.

We can be sure that saffron has an effect on reducing anxiety and depression. So at the very least we can recommend that cancer patients take saffron to lessen their feelings of depression. At the same time we can only hope that a side effect of saffron is that it helps to cure their cancer. Even if in theory it would be cheaper to use the saffron crocus petals instead of the actual saffron (pistils), it is probably easier, quicker and in the end cheaper and more effective to use pure, dried saffron.

Sources:

1. Fukui H, Toyoshima K, Komaki R. Psychological and neuroendocrinological effects of odor of saffron (Crocus sativus). Phytomedicine. 2011 Jun 15;18(8-9):726-30.
2. Agha-Hosseini M, Kashani L, Aleyaseen A, Ghoreishi A, Rahmanpour H, Zarrinara AR, et al. Crocus sativus L. (saffron) in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: a double-blind, randomised and placebo-controlled trial. BJOG. 2008 Mar;115(4):515-9.
3. Akhondzadeh S, Tahmacebi-Pour N, Noorbala AA, Amini H, Fallah-Pour H, Jamshidi AH, et al. Crocus sativus L. in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2005 Feb;19(2):148-51.
4. Noorbala AA, Akhondzadeh S, Tahmacebi-Pour N, Jamshidi AH. Hydro-alcoholic extract of Crocus sativus L. versus fluoxetine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized pilot trial. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Feb 28;97(2):281-4. Epub 2005 Jan 6.
5. Moshiri E, Basti AA, Noorbala AA, Jamshidi AH, Hesameddin Abbasi S, Akhondzadeh S. Crocus sativus L. (petal) in the treatment of mild-to-moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2006 Nov;13(9-10):607-11. Epub 2006 Sep 18.
6. Akhondzadeh Basti A, Moshiri E, Noorbala AA, Jamshidi AH, Abbasi SH, Akhondzadeh S. Comparison of petal of Crocus sativus L. and fluoxetine in the treatment of depressed outpatients: a pilot double-blind randomized trial.
Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Mar 30;31(2):439-42.
7. Braden R, Reichow S, Halm MA. The use of the essential oil lavandin to reduce preoperative anxiety in surgical patients. J Perianesth Nurs. 2009 Dec;24(6):348-55.
8. Nord D, Belew J. Effectiveness of the essential oils lavender and ginger in promoting children's comfort in a perianesthesia setting. J Perianesth Nurs. 2009 Oct;24(5):307-12.
Bathaie SZ, Mousavi SZ. New applications and mechanisms of action of saffron and its important ingredients. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Sep;50(8):761-86.
Zhong YJ, Shi F, Zheng XL, Wang Q, Yang L, Sun H, et al. Crocetin induces cytotoxicity and enhances vincristine-induced cancer cell death via p53-dependent and -independent mechanisms. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2011 Oct 10. doi: 10.1038/aps.2011.109.
Mousavi SH, Moallem SA, Mehri S, Shahsavand S, Nassirli H, Malaekeh-Nikouei B. Improvement of cytotoxic and apoptogenic properties of crocin in cancer cell lines by its nanoliposomal form. Pharm Biol. 2011 Oct;49(10):1039-45.
9. Amin A, Hamza AA, Bajbouj K, Ashraf SS, Daoud S. Saffron: A potential candidate for a novel anticancer drug against hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology. 2011 May 23. doi: 10.1002/hep.24433.
10. Gutheil WG, Reed G, Ray A, Dhar A.  Crocetin: an Agent Derived from Saffron for Prevention and Therapy for Cancer.  Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2011 Apr 5.
11. Samarghandian S, Tavakkol Afshari J, Davoodi S. Suppression of pulmonary tumor promotion and induction of apoptosis by Crocus sativus L. extraction.  Appl Biochem Biotechnol. 2011 May;164(2):238-47.
12. Samarghandian S, Boskabady MH, Davoodi S. Use of in vitro assays to assess the potential antiproliferative and cytotoxic effects of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) in human lung cancer cell line. Pharmacogn Mag. 2010 Oct;6(24):309-14.
13. Chryssanthi DG, Dedes PG, Karamanos NK, Cordopatis P, Lamari FN. Crocetin inhibits invasiveness of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells via downregulation of matrix metalloproteinases. Planta Med. 2011 Jan;77(2):146-51.Epub 2010 Aug 27.
14. Bakshi H, Sam S, Rozati R, Sultan P, Islam T, Rathore B, et al. DNA fragmentation and cell cycle arrest: a hallmark of apoptosis induced by crocin from kashmiri saffron in a human pancreatic cancer cell line. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2010;11(3):675-9.
15. Dhar A, Mehta S, Dhar G, Dhar K, Banerjee S, Van Veldhuizen P, et al. Crocetin inhibits pancreatic cancer cell proliferation and tumor progression in a xenograft mouse model. Mol Cancer Ther. 2009 Feb;8(2):315-23.
16. Bakshi HA, Sam S, Feroz A, Ravesh Z, Shah GA, Sharma M. Crocin from Kashmiri saffron (Crocus sativus) induces in vitro and in vivo xenograft growth inhibition of Dalton's lymphoma (DLA) in mice.

Other Sources:

- Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2009;10(5):887-90.
- Fukui H, Toyoshima K, Komaki R. Psychological and neuroendocrinological effects of odor of saffron (Crocus sativus). Phytomedicine. 2011 Jun 15;18(8-9):726-30.
- Agha-Hosseini M, Kashani L, Aleyaseen A, Ghoreishi A, Rahmanpour H, Zarrinara AR, et al. Crocus sativus L. (saffron) in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: a double-blind, randomised and placebo-controlled trial. BJOG. 2008 Mar;115(4):515-9.
- Akhondzadeh S, Tahmacebi-Pour N, Noorbala AA, Amini H, Fallah-Pour H, Jamshidi AH, et al. Crocus sativus L. in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial. Phytother Res. 2005 Feb;19(2):148-51.
- Noorbala AA, Akhondzadeh S, Tahmacebi-Pour N, Jamshidi AH. Hydro-alcoholic extract of Crocus sativus L. versus fluoxetine in the treatment of mild to moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized pilot trial. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005 Feb 28;97(2):281-4. Epub 2005 Jan 6.
- Moshiri E, Basti AA, Noorbala AA, Jamshidi AH, Hesameddin Abbasi S, Akhondzadeh S. Crocus sativus L. (petal) in the treatment of mild-to-moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial. Phytomedicine. 2006 Nov;13(9-10):607-11. Epub 2006 Sep 18.
- Akhondzadeh Basti A, Moshiri E, Noorbala AA, Jamshidi AH, Abbasi SH, Akhondzadeh S. Comparison of petal of Crocus sativus L. and fluoxetine in the treatment of depressed outpatients: a pilot double-blind randomized trial.
- Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2007 Mar 30;31(2):439-42.
- Braden R, Reichow S, Halm MA. The use of the essential oil lavandin to reduce preoperative anxiety in surgical patients. J Perianesth Nurs. 2009 Dec;24(6):348-55.
- Nord D, Belew J. Effectiveness of the essential oils lavender and ginger in promoting children's comfort in a perianesthesia setting. J Perianesth Nurs. 2009 Oct;24(5):307-12.
- Bathaie SZ, Mousavi SZ. New applications and mechanisms of action of saffron and its important ingredients. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Sep;50(8):761-86.
- Zhong YJ, Shi F, Zheng XL, Wang Q, Yang L, Sun H, et al. Crocetin induces cytotoxicity and enhances vincristine-induced cancer cell death via p53-dependent and -independent mechanisms. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2011 Oct 10. doi: 10.1038/aps.2011.109.
- Mousavi SH, Moallem SA, Mehri S, Shahsavand S, Nassirli H, Malaekeh-Nikouei B. Improvement of cytotoxic and apoptogenic properties of crocin in cancer cell lines by its nanoliposomal form. Pharm Biol. 2011 Oct;49(10):1039-45.
- Amin A, Hamza AA, Bajbouj K, Ashraf SS, Daoud S. Saffron: A potential candidate for a novel anticancer drug against hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology. 2011 May 23. doi: 10.1002/hep.24433.
- Gutheil WG, Reed G, Ray A, Dhar A.  Crocetin: an Agent Derived from Saffron for Prevention and Therapy for Cancer.  Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2011 Apr 5.
- Samarghandian S, Tavakkol Afshari J, Davoodi S. Suppression of pulmonary tumor promotion and induction of apoptosis by Crocus sativus L. extraction. Appl Biochem Biotechnol. 2011 May;164(2):238-47.
- Samarghandian S, Boskabady MH, Davoodi S. Use of in vitro assays to assess the potential antiproliferative and cytotoxic effects of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) in human lung cancer cell line.
- Pharmacogn Mag. 2010 Oct;6(24):309-14.
- Chryssanthi DG, Dedes PG, Karamanos NK, Cordopatis P, Lamari FN. Crocetin inhibits invasiveness of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells via downregulation of matrix metalloproteinases. Planta Med. 2011 Jan;77(2):146-51. Epub 2010 Aug 27.
- Bakshi H, Sam S, Rozati R, Sultan P, Islam T, Rathore B, et al. DNA fragmentation and cell cycle arrest: a hallmark of apoptosis induced by crocin from kashmiri saffron in a human pancreatic cancer cell line. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2010;11(3):675-9.
- Dhar A, Mehta S, Dhar G, Dhar K, Banerjee S, Van Veldhuizen P, et al. Crocetin inhibits pancreatic cancer cell proliferation and tumor progression in a xenograft mouse model. Mol Cancer Ther. 2009 Feb;8(2):315-23.
- Bakshi HA, Sam S, Feroz A, Ravesh Z, Shah GA, Sharma M. Crocin from Kashmiri saffron (Crocus sativus) induces in vitro and in vivo xenograft growth inhibition of Dalton's lymphoma (DLA) in mice.
- Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2009;10(5):887-90.
- Boskabady MH, Shafei MN, Shakiba A, Sefidi HS. Effect of aqueous-ethanol extract from Crocus sativus (saffron) on guinea-pig isolated heart. 
- Phytother Res . 2007 Dec 4;
- Aung HH, Wang CZ, Ni M, Fishbein A, Mehendale SR, Xie JT, Shoyama CY, Yuan CS. Crocin from Crocus sativus possesses significant anti-proliferation effects on human colorectal cancer cells. 
- Exp Oncol . 2007 Sep; 29 ( 3 ): 175-80 .
- Schmidt M, Betti G, Hensel A. Saffron in phytotherapy: pharmacology and clinical uses. 
- Wien Med Wochenschr . 2007; 157 ( 13-14 ): 315-9 . Review.
- Ochiai T, Shimeno H, Mishima K, Iwasaki K, Fujiwara M, Tanaka H, Shoyama Y, Toda A, Eyanagi R, Soeda S. Protective effects of carotenoids from saffron on neuronal injury in vitro and in vivo. 
- Biochim Biophys Acta . 2007 Apr; 1770 ( 4 ): 578-84 .
- Moshiri E, Basti AA, Noorbala AA, Jamshidi AH, Hesameddin Abbasi S, Akhondzadeh S. Crocus sativus L. (petal) in the treatment of mild-to-moderate depression: a double-blind, randomized and placebo-controlled trial.
- Phytomedicine . 2006 Nov; 13 ( 9-10 ): 607-11
- Sheng L, Qian Z, Zheng S, Xi L. Mechanism of hypolipidemic effect of crocin in rats: crocin inhibits pancreatic lipase. 
- Eur J Pharmacol . 2006 Aug 14; 543 ( 1-3 ): 116-22.

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Saffron and Aromtherapy A pinch of saffron alters hormone levels in women inhaling saffron is good for you Inhaling saffron influences hormones: testosterone, cortisol, oestrogen, Prozac Saffron worked a lot better than the placebo and had a similar effect to Prozac